The City Status letter to Nick Clegg, which I’m sure you’ve all read about in the Medway Messenger or in this Blog, was the first one I picked up the torch and ran with. I did take it upon myself to write the letter and those who’ve watched me work on it and write, re read, edit, listen to it at home and work will know that this has been an almost Ahab-esq mission for me. I am very grateful when Tony Jeacock, our new Chair for helping me with the drafts and sharpening my waffle. When I presented to the Group the other week I took their suggestions on board and between me and Tony we again cut it down but kept it sharp.
I’m not a political animal really, yeah I’m a Libdem and believe in the principles of Mill’s On Liberty, I also agree with Nick but I am open to other ideas and approaches. I’m not tribal at all and will be one of the first to disagree with a bad Party decision. Though I am a Liberal I am also of the same school as David Lawes and Nick Clegg, to reiterate a quote that someone said of Clegg - I'd make a good Tory if I wasn't so Liberal. I don’t have long term aims to become an MP, Prime Minister or even a Councillor – if it happens then cool, and I’ll do my utmost to serve my constituents but really, it’s not my primary motivation in life. My main life goal up until I got married was peace and quiet. I wanted a comfortable arm chair and a good book – in my heart of hearts it’s still my aim and I’m looking forward to retirement or when I win the lottery. Since getting married and having my daughter my aim has been looking after them and people like my family across the towns and the best way I can do that is to take a role in politics and at least keep up, maybe get involved in the debate – it beats sitting at home and reading about the conclusion in the paper.
For me, the City Status bid is wrong for reasons I’ve stated more than once so won’t do so again but it never occurred to me that people would feel just as strongly that it was right and had been campaigning for it actively.
My Grandfather rarely spoke about fighting during the War but on one occasion I asked him and he told me that when opening fire on the enemy you saw figures in Grey at a distance, you squeezed the trigger and they fell – you didn’t know if they were dead, wounded or taking cover. He’d always liked Germany and Germans (something he had passed on to me) but on another occasion he mentioned a German sentry one night who’d been singing Silent night. Pop had hated the Carroll ever since and wouldn’t have it sung in the house so we drew our own conclusions. The personification of the “enemy” or “opponent” is a hard thing to reconcile, they cease being shapes and become people.
For me fighting “city status” or Medway Council’s consultation over Care homes had always been fairly easy. It was “Medway Council.” A huge faceless organisation like “The Empire” in Star Wars. They had to be defeated for the good of the residents and that was the motivation, so when I got an email from a friend who is a local Conservative, saying that she was disappointed at our actions and that it would spell an end to all of their hard work it made me feel quite guilty. She went on to say that it was more about giving locals something to be proud of, that Medway was important and to give some Civic pride which in my mind is really a noble goal.
I got another Tweet from another friend who outlined a similar stance and again I felt exceptionally bad and apologised profusely – suddenly “The enemy” had a face and for me the personification was real. My actions were affecting people I knew, not just knew of, and who I would consider to be friends.
This is the danger though, and something I guess we all have to get used to in local and national politics. We’re not all in the same party and we all have different views – sooner or later we’ll have to cross swords even with those we have a lot of respect and liking for.
Even the actions of Cllr Jarrett over the Nelson Court issues are motivated by a greater good, to save money in the budget for other services - we just disagree that this is the area he should be making the cuts.
I guess the moral of the story is that you shouldn't take it personally, as I have, when criticisms come your way or if a friend in another party does something you disagree with - at the end of the day we all have differing opinions and we aren't going to agree all the time. Sooner or later you'll be in a meeting or reading in the paper and go;
"They said What? How can you say that?!"The first friend I mentioned tweeted me Friday whilst all this was dwelling on my mind and feeling sorry for myself - I was in the house on my own just letting the story run around and around in my head - saying
"I don't want to sound harsh but MAN UP!" - Which made me smile and I'm taking the message seriously and I am removing my heart from my sleeve for the future - I'm not going to become a merciless anti this and that party monster hell bent on destruction and the changing of Medway to Gold but I'm also going to have to accept that we can't all agree and that unfortunately swords will be crossed even with friends - of course the manner in which you do that will determine whether they stay friends and I hope that I will keep to it.
I also hope that I will forgive me for any clashes as I will forgive them - after all friendship is just as important.